Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday Poetry - Past three o'clock

I've always loved this carol but was surprised to learn that it's not medieval as I'd always thought, but 20th century. The Refrain & the tune is at least 17th century, from a time when the waits would go around calling the time through the night. The words were composed by George Ratcliffe Woodward (who also wrote the words for Ding, Dong, Merrily On High) in the 1920s.

If you don't know it, here are the Cambridge Singers & here are The Stairwell Carollers from Ottawa.

        Past three a clock,
        And a cold frosty morning,
        Past three a clock;
        Good morrow, masters all!

Born is a Baby,
Gentle as may be,
Son of the eternal
Father supernal.

        Past three a clock,
        And a cold frosty morning,
        Past three a clock;
        Good morrow, masters all!

Seraph quire singeth,
Angel bell ringeth;
Hark how they rime it,
Time it and chime it.

Mid earth rejoices
Hearing such voices
e'ertofore so well
Carolling Nowell.

Hinds o'er the pearly,
Dewy lawn early
Seek the high Stranger
Laid in the manger.

Cheese from the dairy
Bring they for Mary
And, not for money,
Butter and honey.

Light out of star-land
Leadeth from far land
Princes, to meet him,
Worship and greet him.

Myrrh from full coffer,
Incense they offer;
Nor is the golden
Nugget withholden.

Thus they: I pray you,
Up, sirs, nor stay you
Till ye confess him
Likewise and bless him.


  1. Oh, how lovely! And I've never heard this one... my dad 'collected' traditional Christmas carols so this is the sound of Christmas for me. Thank you!

    1. I find I get the refrain in my head & hum it for days! Still, there are much worse mindworms to have stuck in my head.

  2. I am writing (well, it the end) an Advent Calendar blog and I try to end each day with a Christmas carol or a Christmas piece of music. Some are haunting and I find myself humming them until the next day or even more.
    Thank you for giving us Sunday poetry and Sunday Christmas carols those past weeks. I do enjoy your postts even if I do not comment often! :)

    1. Thanks Camille, I'm glad you're enjoying them.

  3. Another lovely choice I'm off to listen to them while I potter about feeling very Christmas'sy :o)
    (enjoying Whistler btw)

    1. Glad you're enjoying both book & carol! I listened to lots of wintry carols yesterday as it was over 40C & I needed to feel cooler.